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New roads needed despite user charging scheme

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MAJOR UK road building will be required even if a national road user charging scheme is introduced, a new study for the Independent Transport Commission shows this week.

The study shows that pressure on the road network will continue to justify major road building, despite the introduction of a national road user charging scheme that aims to reduce congestion. The scheme could raise more than £16bn a year.

The report, Investing in roads: pricing, costs and new capacity, also shows that revenue that could be generated through road user charging dwarfs current investment in road infrastructure by 10 to 1.

It comes before the Treasury publication of the Eddington Report into transport investment next week, which is expected to recommend road pricing, but only limited new road building.

'We set out to test the proposition that if road pricing were introduced then there would no longer be a case for building new roads, ' said report co-author, professor of transport and infrastructure at Imperial College London Stephen Glaister. 'We conclude that this proposition is false.' It claims that with the study showing a potential £16.2bn annual revenue from road pricing it would be 'abusing a dominant position' not to provide new roads. The study highlights the enormous gulf between revenues that could be generated by road user charging and current investment levels in road building and maintenance.

The report also argues that new roads in larger towns and conurbations should be built underground.

It shows projected annual road pricing revenue dwarfing annual surface road building costs by 10 to one, thereby justifying the greater expense of building new roads in tunnels.

'In some cases the revenues are so high that it is worthwhile considering going to the expense of building new roads in tunnels? they may also be justified in some suburban and rural locations, ' says the report.

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